While Brandon Stone won’t be playing in Sunshine Tour Qualifying School, Haydn Porteous (left), another of South Africa’s brightest prospects who has also already turned professional, gets his quest for a tour card underway on Tuesday over the Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park layouts.
Like Stone, Porteous has been able to make use of invitations to play in some European Tour events, but he is pinning his Sunshine Tour hopes on a solid performance over five gruelling rounds in the Bloemfontein heat.
Porteous joins 235 other hopefuls who will have to play two rounds on each of the courses ahead of the cut to 60 players and those tying on that score, and, after a final round at Bloemfontein Golf Club, the top 30 players and ties will get their Sunshine Tour cards.
Stone, who finished in a share of 19th in last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on the European Tour to move into 93rd position on the 2014 Race to Dubai, withdrew from the Qualifying School and is in the field for the Commercialbank Qatar Masters in Doha.
He currently has no status on the European Tour and is clearly relying on his current run of good form to earn him enough money to qualify for membership that way.
But, for the likes of Porteous and the rest, first prize is a spot on the Sunshine Tour. It’s a recognised route to fame, giving players an opportunity to play on a tour acknowledged as a producer of world beaters – and with six events (seven with the Nedbank Golf Challenge) co-sanctioned by the European Tour being played in South Africa, Sunshine Tour cards represent the chance of a fast track into fields in the rest of the world.
Of the 236 players, 79 are amateurs, and, should any of them make it to the top 30 on Saturday, they will have to decide whether to relinquish their amateur status as they go in search of a professional dream.
Play gets underway at Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park at 6.20am on Tuesday.